Farming & Charming
locally produced WPT show returns for season four
Popular locally produced TV show Around the Farm Table has launched its fourth season this fall on Wisconsin Public Television. A true fan favorite – this show has excelled at providing glimpses into life at Wisconsin farms, all in short range from the Osseo area. Host/Co-Producer Inga Orth (née Witscher) has recently experienced some life changes that allow the show to grow and show us even more of our traditional landscape and lifestyles.
Recently Inga made the tough decision to let go of dairy farming. We’ve all enjoyed learning from her – the episode clip on milk testing is a quick, neat science and history lesson – and it wasn’t an easy decision to let go of this tradition that’s been in her family for generations. But the cows have a new family that is eager to learn and love the practice. Inga is now looking to make better use of her 30 acres at St. Isidore’s Mead: “I’m in the process of reimagining the farm.” She has turned her attention to garlic farming. “Garlic is something I’ve been wanting to grow on a larger scale for years. I grew up next to a hippie commune in Washington State that grew loads of garlic and in the summer they would host a garlic festival. It was always the highlight of the summer. At the festival, I would walk through booths selling unusual garlic dishes (garlic ice cream), and adore the beautiful braids of garlic. It was an experience I would love to be able to recreate here on my farm.”
This garlic farming inception may be detailed in a future episode of Around the Farm Table and Inga hopes to launch her very own garlic fest next summer. “This year we are planting a hardneck variety of garlic called Chesnok Red. It’s a beautiful purple striped garlic that’s superb for cooking with and stores well too.” She spent the summer composting the soil and prepping for the fall planting, which occurs after the first frost. The garlic should be ready by next July.
Letting go of the morning and evening milking of the cows has freed up Inga and her crew to travel greater distances away from Osseo, exploring more farming around our state. “We travel all over the state. This past season we went as far as Door County to visit the lavender farm on Washington Island. Now that I don’t have to be back in time for the evening milking we can go anywhere.” There will also be hyper-local content on this season’s episodes, including interviews with Nickolas Butler, local best-selling author, and Nathan Berg, head chef at The Lakely.
The content of the show remains reliable, honorable, and mission oriented. Rick Witscher, Producer of ATFT and Inga’s father, set out to document sustainable farming occurring in the modern age. This remains their shared intention after years of producing the show. Inga explains: “When we are researching farms, we look for farms that we are interested in knowing more about. Are they growing an unusual crop that we want to learn more about? What are their conservation practices. My father, Rick, and I are curious about how other people farm and we love learning new tips and becoming inspired by how folks are farming.”
Filming occurred from May-August this year, with the possibility of a single show being produced in just three days. Driving and setting up cameras are the most time intensive portions of the on-location production.
Inga gives us good reasons to show our support for local food production, to get out and relish in the produce from our neighbors’ farms all around us here in Wisconsin. “We are surrounded by amazing thoughtful farmers here in Wisconsin. Go to the farmers market, join a CSA, grow a garden and get cooking!” she says. “You don’t have to be a chef to cook memorable meals, all you need is good ingredients … and butter – lots of butter.”